Oh Dear: Study Finds Comedians Have “Psychotic Personality Traits”

Comics have high levels of psychotic personality traits, according to a new study which should come as a surprise to exactly no one who spends time around comedians. In other breaking news, comics also have trouble paying their bills on time. 

As reported by Reuters, British Journal Of Psychiatry studied 523 comedians, as well as 364 actors, from America, Britain and Australia and compared the findings with 831 people in non-creative jobs, or what is commonly called “steady employment.” The comedians scored much higher on four characteristics of psychosis, including avoiding intimacy and impulsive non-conformity. (Frisky commenter Applescruffs, who is a psychologist, notes that in the U.S., “psychotic” tends to be referred to in terms of having delusions or hallucinations, but elsewhere in the world can be used synonymously with having “schizotypal personality traits.” So there you go.)

Does this mean all comics are “psychos”? No. It simply means psychotic traits can be present in people with severe mental illnesses, like schizophrenia or depression, as well as in people who don’t, and comics can be either. Which could actually be a good thing! The leaders of the study framed the findings as evidence of how comedians’ quirky way of thinking informs their work. Explained Gordon Claridge of the University of Oxford’s Department of Experimental Psychology, these traits “can increase people’s ability to associate odd or unusual things or to think outside the box.”

Interestingly, the majority of the comics studied were men — not surprising, since comedy can be a male-dominated field. (I just illustrated this post with lady comics to give some love to my favorite comediennes!) However, this whole study was conducted over an online questionnaire and thus there was no back-and-forth about the specifics. This would be a fascinating subject for further research. I’ll volunteer my definitely-impulsively-non-conformist-but-otherwise-not-at-all-psychotic hubby as a research subject.

[Behave.net: Psychosis]

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[Images via Getty]